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Rasheed Uraykat,
Protocol Officer, Jordanian Foreign Ministry

16-sep-03, 7:30 pm

After our long day's drive, we arrive at our Amman hotel at 6:30. With a meeting scheduled (and already delayed several times) for 7:30, there is no time to clean up.

In a hotel conference room we meet with Rasheed Uraykat, a Protocol Officer of the Jordanian Foreign Ministry. Uraykat speaks excellent English and has a master's degree in Conflict Resolution. Besides working as protocol officer, he in involved with inter-civilization communication efforts and is trying to esablish contacts between young Arabs and Americans.

After some pleasantries, Uraykat describes tomorrow's initerary, and then gives us some background information. He hopes that we can "teach the West" that Islam is not a threat. He cites the title of the Book "Clash of Civilizations" and expresses the hope that we can instead establish a "Dialogue of Civilizations". (We will hear this often; the title, at least, of Huntington's book has had a wide impact in the Middle East.)

A discussion of Sam's book, "Faces of the Enemy", leads to the disclosure that the Jordanian Ministry of Media is being phased out; Jordanian media will be privatized. There will be a new Media Council, though, that will try to enhance Jordan's image internationally. He notes that Al-Jezeera Network is not under any governmental control. Unlike Jordan, where there will be more press freedom but also "more responsibility". [I interpret this to mean that there will be punishments for any perceived abuses of this new freedom.]

Uraykat tells us that many ordinary Jordanians believe that the recent bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad was carried out by the U.S. in order to get more Jordanian support. They also believe that the Iraq "rebuilding" is a sham, noting that only American companies are participating.

Uraykat is working on creating an International conference on inter-civilization communications issues. Bashar points out the most such conferences in the Arab world are closed to the general public, and urges Uraykat to open it up.

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